By Ken Trainor
So here we are, a dozen years into the third millennium, and evidently no one is safe — anywhere. We and our loved ones are completely vulnerable to any deranged individual with a grudge and access to all the guns he wants, who takes it into whatever's left of his mind to make a name for himself by shooting up a herd of docile humanity, collected passively somewhere for his killing pleasure. Doesn't matter where — post offices, schools, libraries, churches, shopping mall movie theaters, any place in a relatively free society where people congregate and security is light. The Batman massacre is the latest.
After each incident, we shake our heads, share the grief from a distance, then get distracted and move on. A few still have the nerve to say, "Now? Now at long last will we wake up and do something about the scourge of guns in this society?"
The answer, of course, is no because we all recognize nothing can be done. The NRA has purchased — or intimidated — the vast majority of our elected officials, and they also have their five protectors on the Supreme Court who would overrule any legislation that somehow got through Congress or the state legislatures.
In effect, we are ruled by the NRA, which is ironic because NRA members are forever talking about how they need their weapons to fight tyranny.
But the only true tyranny in this country is the stranglehold of the NRA.
This is a golden era for gun pushers. They have more money than God, and can always get their way. If a madman commits mass murder with easily accessible guns (thanks to their lobbying efforts), it's not their problem. Not their responsibility.
That's the problem.
The NRA, four million members strong, is the last bastion of ultraliberalism — maximum freedom, minimal responsibility. You've heard the old adage, "With freedom comes responsibility"? Doesn't apply. They don't feel any responsibility to the society at large and its legitimate concerns over safety. They can't even accept the modest inconveniences that would accompany effective regulation of firearms. That would infringe their personal freedom, which is far more important to them than the common good.
"Gun nuts," as they are often called, aren't "nuts" because of guns. It's their inflexible extremism that makes them nutty. If they ever acknowledged the responsibility that comes with their freedom, the rest of us might have some slim hope for progress. But they don't. Not satisfied with unfettered access to guns, they now want libertine laws allowing conceal and carry with few, if any, restrictions.
Our only real hope to break their stranglehold would be a series of class-action lawsuits similar to the ones that eventually forced the tobacco industry to start accepting responsibility for the scourge they inflict on society.
That's a long shot to be sure, but without that, we won't have any shot at all. The only ones with a shot will be the madmen who take full advantage of the NRA's irresponsibility, making the rest of us more likely to join the lengthening list of massacre casualties.
There is, however, one avenue the rest of us can pursue: indicting the NRA in the court of public opinion. We can publicly call on the gun lobby to start accepting their share of the responsibility for the mass murders committed in an atmosphere of easy access to guns, which they do more than any other entity to perpetuate.
Where is the responsibility, NRA, that comes with your Second Amendment freedom? Guns don't kill people. No, madmen with weapons of mass destruction, easily obtained through your efforts, kill large numbers of people.
Is the NRA responsible for this? Partly. How big a part? Depends on who you ask, I suppose. Let's ask the people in Aurora, Colo., who just finished burying their loved ones. Let's ask the folks in Littleton, Colo., who are still mourning the students at Columbine High School 13 years later.
There's a long list of people we can ask, and the list keeps growing.
Where is the responsibility that comes with your freedom, NRA?
The rest of us need to keep repeating that question in the court of public opinion. The NRA believes they can bully us into silence. We have to prove them wrong. If we don't, our elected officials will never address our safety concerns.
If you're a member of the NRA and find all this offensive, then you, too, should speak up. Not to us — to your own organization. Tell them that freedom without responsibility is immoral and you don't want to be part of an organization that refuses to address this society's legitimate safety concerns. We're talking about doing something more significant than offering firearm certification classes.
The NRA has won (this round anyway). Their freedom is assured. They can afford to be gracious. So how about an answer — no dodges, no cop-outs, not the usual spiteful, sneering, haughty, we-know-it-all-and-you-don't-know-jack answers we usually hear. How about a straightforward answer to your fellow countrymen, who are wondering what you can do to help keep the deadly firearms you have made so easily accessible out of the hands of madmen? We're scared and we don't feel safe – and with very good reason.
With freedom comes responsibility. With great freedom comes great responsibility.
The NRA is part of the problem.
When will they become part of the solution?